We’re spending the long weekend in Ohio and Kentucky this Memorial Day weekend with Chris’s parents. They’ve never visited either state, so we started our day in Cincinnati at the Findlay Market, which is one of the oldest public markets in the country. It was a really fun setup that reminded me a bit of the markets we’ve seen in West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. As we’re walking through one of the markets and stop to try some cheese spreads from a vendor who owns a restaurant in Kentucky, the man makes some polite chit chat with us and asks where we are from. I tell him that Chris and I live in New York City, but his parents are visiting from Australia, so we decided to spend the long weekend in Ohio and Kentucky. He gives me a very puzzled look, and he says as he gives a little laugh, “I’m not trying to be rude, but why in the world are you here?” He elaborates that he’s confused as to why people who are visiting the U.S. from Australia would want to visit states like Ohio and Kentucky; he’d think that people from such an interesting country (“interesting” for Australia is debatable) would want to visit the more popular and well known states, like California or New York. And for Chris and me, how did we even think about flying to Cincinnati of all cities to visit? I tell the man that we are trying to see as much of the country as possible and see what everyone has to offer. I also let him know that we’re doing our second day trip to Kentucky tomorrow. He smiles and says he likes my attitude and that he hopes we enjoy our time in his town.
The man was clearly being modest, but maybe he just doesn’t know what makes his home town so great. Maybe no one really gets why anyone would want to visit their relatively small home town. But I still believe every place has something special about it. Maybe everyone in these ‘smaller town’ areas needs to have a little bit more pride about where they are from. I’d be so irritated all the time if I had to say things like, “Why would you want to visit (where I am now that I represent)? Don’t you want to visit (insert some other glitzy, bigger city nearby)?” It’d be as though I have little self worth.